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Priest fights to keep nursing homes open

A retired priest is fighting to save two Catholic nursing homes earmarked for closure in Maitland Newcastle Diocese by threatening a campaign against Coalition candidates at the coming Federal Election.

It was announced recently that the nursing homes - St Catherine's in Newcastle and St Joseph's at Lochinvar - are to close.

Chief executive officer of Catholic Care of the Aged (CCA) in the diocese, Ralph Watson, said Church and community action groups have been lobbying the Federal Government and appealling for public support.

The Catholic Leader reports that retired diocesan priest Fr Austin Hayes has also entered to fray. Fr Hayes, who because of his diocesan parish ministry knows many of the residents at St Catherine's and St Joseph's, last month wrote to Prime Minister John Howard about the closures, but has yet to receive a reply.

He told the Leader: "No consideration is being given by [Aged Care Minister Bronwyn Bishop] because the two homes are in a Labor stronghold."

Meanwhile Mr Watson said: "I wouldn't put my money on the nursing homes being saved, but there is a possibility".

A Good Nursing Home to Close (Newcastle-Maitland Media Release 11/7/01)

Catholic Leader